Multiplayer online battle arenas or MOBAs like Overwatch are gaining a lot of popularity under gamers these days, so it makes sense that the genre would make a transition to virtual reality as well. And there’s certainly a lot of potential for developers to make something like this work in VR with all of its immersive capability.
Oh!WHATif Inc. is one such hopeful studio who are releasing their debut VR game soon, called BattleSky VR. Much as the name suggests, this game lets you take part in battles raging across the skies. Facing off against other players, each will get to choose a character with unique abilities and play styles and then let loose across the heavens. BattleSky VR is set to release in Early Access on Steam on January 19th. Since the game is available on both Oculus Rift and Vive, both David Vieux and I decided to test the game out using both and see how it goes.
So while BattleSky VR is showing a lot of promise and works equally well on both Rift and Vive, it still has a long way to go. Which is why I’ll be giving it a preliminary review score now but will revisit the game when it fully releases at the end of its EA run.
Take a look at our gameplay video below:
Currently, there are only two playable characters available in BattleSky VR, including a futuristic jet-powered guy, a dragon, called Jet-9 and Draco. A third, Lady V, is visibly locked and still in development. The studio is also planning to add a fourth and final character to the game, though that one is still shrouded in mystery.
As for the two available characters, I first tested Jet-9 in the single-player mode which features a campaign revolving around collecting crystals on various floating islands. Though these crystals had some steampunk-styled NPCs protecting them and later on a hoard of spiders also made an appearance. However, since I was able to fly and they were not, it was easy enough to dispatch of them. Until the flying ships appeared that is.
Flapping Through The Air
It was awkward at first, trying to fly and shoot at the same time because you have to sort of ‘manage gravity’. Meaning that I could get myself up in the air okay but if I wanted to shoot then it would happen while I’m falling back down. Plus shooting straight down while flying isn’t a great option either, because the residual light from the rockets make it impossible to see where I’m shooting. The toughest part, however, was maneuvering. Which I thought was rough with the jetpack guy until I tried out Draco the dragon.
While Jet-9 simply requires you to point and shoot your jets in the opposite direction of where you want to go, Draco simply requires you to push on the trackpad (or the A/B buttons for Rift) and flap your wings. Yup, I became the dragon. I was the dragon. Spewing fire was awesome – though I wish there were some actual fire effects on enemies and the environment. However, frustration soon sets in, making the awe of being a dragon short-lived. It was quite difficult to control where I was going when it comes to making turns or flying towards a certain target at high speeds. So getting used to the flying controls in the game is definitely a challenge. Which some people will love and others probably will hate. But the two characters have very different gameplay styles and that helps because you can find one that suits you better.
An Open, Empty Sky
Multiplayer currently offers Team Deathmatch and Big Race modes, both of which – along with the single-player – take place around steampunk themed floating islands. Which gives you something interesting to look at and places to hide from enemies but other than that ultimately serves no purpose – since we spent most of our time in the air. Plus the environment isn’t even destructible so it’s just there.
As of right now, the game allows you to fly as far away from these islands as you want which defeats the purpose of conflict. Also, besides a killstreak, there’s no incentive to do well in the battles – which might have been fine 8 years ago but now players need some sort of reward whether it be currency or loot in order to be incentivized to continue playing.
So ultimately, the content in BattleSky VR is a little sparse right now and the gameplay has a steep learning curve in terms of flying maneuvers but the concept itself shows a lot of promise. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one and hopefully the game gets a lot of players after it releases because I can’t see this one being fun with just a few players in the lobby at a time.